Spencer Torkelson hurts ankle in Arizona Fall League. Could Detroit Tigers shut him down?

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson sustained an injury in the Arizona Fall League while playing for the Salt River Rafters.

He departed from Wednesday’s game with an ankle sprain, sources with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press on Thursday. While the injury doesn’t seem severe, the Tigers are still deciding if their top prospect needs to be removed from the roster.

The Arizona Fall League, featuring many of baseball’s top prospects, began Oct. 13 and wraps up on Nov. 20. Through seven games, Torkelson is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles, three RBIs, eight walks and five strikeouts, giving him a .607 on-base percentage.

Torkelson is the Tigers’ No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old was selected No. 1 overall in 2020 out of Arizona State.

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On Wednesday, Torkelson drew a walk in the fourth inning and eventually advanced to third base. There, he slid back to the bag during a pickoff attempt. He rolled his ankle during the play, and the Rafters immediately sent him to the clubhouse.

The Tigers might not hesitate to give Torkelson a break from baseball, for a few reasons.

He took on a hefty workload in his first full season as a professional by playing 121 games in the minor leagues. (The COVID-19 pandemic nixed the minors last year.) He also experienced his first big-league spring training and went to the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field in July.

Torkelson finished with a .267 batting average, 30 home runs, 91 RBIs, 77 walks and 114 strikeouts as he rose from High-A West Michigan (31 games) to Double-A Erie (50 games) and, finally, to Triple-A Toledo (40 games). With the Mud Hens, Torkelson hit .238 with 11 home runs, 27 RBIs, 23 walks and 36 strikeouts.

Most importantly, spring training is less than four months away. The Tigers will give Torkelson an opportunity to make the 2022 Opening Day roster, so they want him at full health and well-rested when camp begins in February.

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Also playing for the Rafters, Tigers shortstop prospect Ryan Kreidler is hitting .200 (2-for-10) with three walks and six strikeouts over three games. He is the No. 10 prospect in the team’s farm system and had a breakout campaign this season.

Kreidler hit .270 with 22 home runs, 58 RBIs, 56 walks and 158 strikeouts over 129 games for Double-A Erie (88 games) and Triple-A Toledo (41 games). He hit .304 with seven homers in Toledo.

Outfielder Riley Greene, the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect, was scratched from the Arizona Fall League before the fall season opened due to concussion protocol. He sustained his head injury during his final game for Toledo on Oct. 2. The Tigers pulled him from the AFL roster because they didn’t want to rush him back into competition, especially after he played a career-high 124 games this season with Erie (84 games) and Toledo (40 games).

Like Torkelson, Greene is slated to compete for a spot on the Tigers’ 2022 Opening Day roster.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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